Is Cheaper Better When It Comes to Sunscreen?

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If a sunscreen costs more money, it must be better, right? Wrong.

I’ve been telling my patients for years that it’s not necessary to spend a lot of money on sunscreens (or facial cleansers) because most brands have similar active ingredients. Now, I’ve got back up: A new Consumer Reports study of sunscreens shows that inexpensive store brand options were among the best.

Consumer Reports examined 12 sunscreens for their effectiveness at protecting against UVA and UVB rays — both of which cause skin cancer. Top honors went to Target’s Up & Up Continuous Spray Sport SPF 50 and Wal-Mart’s Equate Ultra Protection Lotion SPF 50 which were also among the least expensive. Other high-scoring sunscreens included: Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50 Lotion and Walgreens Sport Continuous Spray SPF 50.

So you don’t have to buy expensive department-store facial cleansers to have clean, healthy skin. But if you’re using an expensive facial cleanser and love it, then keep using it.

Photo credit: stockmonkeys.com

9 thoughts on “Is Cheaper Better When It Comes to Sunscreen?

  1. In the last year I tried to use natural cosmetics, for my skin I use bio coconut oil and recently I found a recipe using natural ingredients for sunscreen. Hemp oil and macadamia oil have SPF 6 , I know that I need more than 6 but do you think it`s a good idea to use natural ingredients for protection?

    • Casie, I understand your desire to use “natural” ingredients. But sunscreens on the market have been FDA approved and are safe. An SPF of 6 is not adequate protection. In fact, anything under SPF 15 isn’t considered “broad-spectrum” which means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Therefore, I don’t think it’s a good idea to use natural ingredients for sun protection.

  2. We need to protect our skin if we want to be pretty and healthy for a long time, in the summer the sun is our friend and in the same time our enemy if we don`t protect the skin. We can find quality products and cheap as well, we need to search and inform. Enjoy the summer !

  3. When I was a child sunscreen was an absolute must. I was thin and had tendency to burn easily. We are very mindful of our grand children’s protection from the sun when they visit to swim in our pool. We do use the Equate SPF50 Lotion and it seems to work very well.

      • Hi, Dr. Benabio
        I really appreciate you taking the time to reply to my comment. As I get older I think more about taking care of myself.

  4. That’s great, I love cheap but I also want to be safe! Now I know I can be cheap and safe, Thanks for sharing!

  5. Thanks, Dr. Benabio! Can you explain why it is happened? Why inexpensive brands are better then expensive? I may think about better promotion of famous brand. Today I haven’t one expensive facial cleanser I use and your article comes in right time:) What SPF is considered by safe level? I’ve heard SPF30 is enough.

    • Most brands have the same active ingredients, so they act similarly despite differences in price. SPF 30 is fine. Just be sure to look for a “broad-spectrum” sunscreen that protects against both UVB and UVA rays.

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